Visit York North Yorkshire and the surrounding villages and stay in bed and breakfast, hotel or holiday cottage accommodation provided by BedPosts members.
York is known as “The capital of the North”, unique for the completeness of its walls and the preservation of antiquities from prehistoric times onwards, and situated at the junction of the three Ridings of Yorkshire, to none of which it belongs. “Winchester was, London is, York shall be, the finest of the three” is a prophecy of Mother Shipton. “Cair Ebrauc” to the British, “Eboracum” to the Romans, “Jorvik” to the Danes - the titles are an illustration of early history.
William the Conqueror built two castles here, facing each other across the Ouse. The most noteworthy survival on these sites is Clifford's Tower, built in the 13th cent. by Henry III in a quatrefoil plan high on a mound. It was saved centuries later from demolition when the citizens of York pleaded that it was exceeded only by the Minster as an adornment to their city. The rest of the castle has been mainly replaced by the Assize Courts and the Castle Museum, containing among its treasures a reconstruction of a York street in the 18th and 19th centuries.
York Minster is the largest cathedral built in England in the Middle Ages (60,952 sq. ft.). It grew on the site of four earlier churches, taking two and a half centuries to complete after a beginning in 1220; thus it combines the best of the Early English, Decorated and Perpendicular periods. By the orders of Sir Thomas Fairfax after the battle of Marston Moor, the fabric was spared destruction at the hands of the victorious Parliamentarians. The crypt incorporates a pillar of the Roman praetorium and parts of two earlier churches. Among the treasures of the chapter-house are Saxon gospels dating from 982, illuminated missals, and the Ivory Horn of Ulphus presented in 950 by a Saxon nobleman. Of the 125 windows, the E Window and the Five Sisters Window (restored in 1925 as a memorial to the women who died in the 1914 War) are perhaps the best known, but throughout the cathedral are superb examples of the local glassmakers' art in the three periods during which the Minster was built. This wealth of craftsmanship was removed for safety in the 1939 War. This has produced unrivalled opportunities for restoration, and the consequent cleaning, releading and assembly into their original form has brought the windows back to pristine perfection.
The city has many features of architectural interest, and deserves to be explored on foot and at leisure, taking in the great medieval walls and &ldqo;bars” or gates, the Assembly Rooms and the medieval Shambles, where shops lean precariously across a narrow street. But we must not forget that this is also a modern city, glorying in the past, yet living and thriving in the activities of our time. A good way to see the York city is to walk around the medieval walls that surround it.